Friday, December 19, 2008

Great Christmas Series Video

Thought I would share this great video one of the guys on our Tech Team produced for our Christmas Series. We are using Beatles songs every week with the following "titles" for the our series LET IT BE CHRISTMAS:
Revolutionary PEACE (Dec. 14)
Revolutionary POWER (Dec. 21)
Revolutionary LOVE (Dec. 24)
Revolutionary SACRIFICE (Dec. 28)

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1073072027657

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mr. Intensity - Self Control

Here is a fun teaching tool that we made for our ME SERIES!  It was a big hit in our Jr. High Student Services.
video

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Longevity In Ministry

Random thoughts that could help you stay in ministry:

Keep the main thing the main thing.
Remember to always make your family the first priority and ministry.

The church was there before you and it will be there after you.
The church universal will remain weather you are there or, the same can't be said for your family.

Get into God's Word.
God gave us His Word for our personal growth, strength and understanding of what we are called to do and how to live.  Don't just read the Bible to prep for messages, read the Bible to be more like Jesus.

Develop your leaders, not your ego.
Everyone likes to be loved, feel needed and wanted.  However, ministry is about equipping and training people to lead others to Christ.  Ministry has no place for egos, although there seems to be many of them out there.

Take time off.
Make sure you get away from the church building at least once a week.  There will always be more to do and never enough time (read point number two again).

Create a support group.
Gather people around you who will pray and support you, even when you make mistakes!

Pray!
Reading the Bible and prayer are often neglected by pastors who struggle and are our most important tools.  Be in constant communication with God, this means listening as much as talking.

Look for mentors.
Find pastors and leaders who have been in "successful" ministries, buy them lunch and learn from their stories and experience.

Finally, ask other leaders what you should add to this list.




Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Right Answer

During the last 17 years of youth ministry I have had the privilege of attending and speaking at many different youth events, camps, retreats, conferences and training days.  My time at these events has always been refreshing and energizing to me.  I enjoy having the chance to talk to new, upcoming students and leaders.

Recently I was speaking at a conference and had a couple youth leaders say that all students really need is to have leaders in their life who are authentic followers of Jesus Christ.  I don't disagree with the statement, I just feel like there is more to it.  Just like there are different "stages" of a person's journey as a Christian, there are different needs for those different stages.  Some students need a friend; others need a leader while some need someone just to spend time with them.  All of these roles are different and usually only a small number of students are looking for authentic followers of Christ, at first.

Students are looking for more than adults who are authentic; they are looking for adults who actually want to spent time with them.  They want to have someone, anyone believe in them enough to invest in them as a person.  Students aren't looking for authentic followers of Jesus, they are looking for Jesus.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What I Got When I Least Expected It

I recently went to the National Youth Workers Convention in Pittsburg, PA. The purpose of going was to allowing some of the youth staff to receive some youth ministry insight from leaders, authors and developers in youth ministry. This was NYWC number twelve for me and I enjoy attending with youth staff and friends so I can build on relationships with those who share the same call and passion for students, and during this trip I was encouraged to see the energy and involvement of those who attended with me, but for some reason I was not feeling the joy or excitement of being there that I had in the past. Recently God has been “moving” in my life and there is something going on inside of me that I can’t put my figure on. At the convention I began to see what a gift I have been given in where I serve and how God is using and blessing the ministry I am a small part of. Through conversations and sharing I saw many hurting youth workers who would give anything to be a part of what I daily take for granted. During one of the scheduled seminar times I decided to meet with a person who listens and prays for God’s direction and Will in the life and ministry of youth pastors. The time allotted was an hour, an entire hour. I hesitated to sign my name as this was something that I had never done and, did I mention it was an HOUR? I meet the person and was instantly comfortable with casual conversation but thinking this could never take an hour, twenty minutes max. As I began to share, I really felt the Holy Spirit begin to direct my words and I started to share from the part of me that I usually lock-down. I finally paused long enough for my prayer mentor to say, “We only have about five minutes left, so I would like to pray for you.” I was startled to think I had shared for more than fifty minutes of what and how God has been working in my life and the desire I have to love, serve and continually grow closer to Him. I recently went to the National Youth Workers Convention in Pittsburg, PA. The purpose of going was to allow some of the youth staff to receive some youth ministry insight from leaders, authors and developers in youth ministry… what I left with was a renewed sense of His call, but more importantly, a renewed sense of His unconditional, passionate, uncompromised, mind-blowing love for me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tomorrow

Sorry, I have been really busy. I promise to add some new post and links. I'll start... tomorrow!

Monday, September 8, 2008

"Kick Off" What?

September 5, 2008 was our Jr. High "kick-off" for the school year. You know, the time of year when all the "good stuff" happens.  What is with Summer anyway?  All you do in ministry is stay busy going from camp to camp and committing to finish all the projects and programs that you didn't get to during the school year because you were neck deep in ministry.  So with Summer done (at least with it coming to a near end) we begin to "kick" things off.  We act like ministry is starting up and the good stuff is right around the corner for the students and families that we serve and minister to.  What about those who were part of the long, hot, over committed Summer experience?  What about those who made new commitments, new friends and new memories?  I love to get back in the pattern of life (if there really is such a thing) with my children in school and not spending a week or two or even three away from my family.  BUT, there is something to be said for Summer and those encounters that we, the students and our families had with God.  I don't have a problem with the phrase "kick off" I just think I want to keep the momentum going.  I want to kick off every day with Jesus and live like I am as blessed as I actually am...SO, I think I am going to attempt to live a "kicked off life" so others see that my relationship with Jesus is not based on the season, events, programs or feelings surrounding me, but a decision and commitment made daily to live and love my God my Savior!
Living for Jesus & Loving it!
Todd

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What's A Mom & Dad To Do?

Recently I was at a conference and had a great opportunity to sit in a seminar that was focused on involving parents in Youth Ministry.  The emphasis was on plugging in parents as participants and making them informed partners of the ministry their teenagers are involved in.  This is not a new paradigm shift in student ministry, but, it is something that over the years has become a focus and almost a necessity in developing a student ministry that is relevant and effective in large, growing churches.  This is a short post with a short question: How do you include parents in your ministry?

Living for Jesus & Loving it!
T

Friday, August 1, 2008

Penny For Your Thoughts

It's the thought that counts.  This is a phrase that I learned growing up and thought it was some unwritten guideline that people should try to live by to be more thankful.  After all, it doesn't matter how people help, give, respond or even treat each other, it's all about their thoughts, right? Thoughts are great!  Who hasn't heard the phrase "our thoughts are with you" while facing struggles, trials or life changing events.  Don't read me wrong; I think it's great to have others thinking of me... as long as those thoughts are followed with an action.  I must admit that I am guilty of this on, well, just about a daily basis.  Part of me is ashamed to admit that, but it's true. Thoughts of loved ones, friends, leaders, students, and ministry families come to mind but I become to occupied with "stuff" and put no actions to my thoughts.  I recently have been challenged to put my "thoughts into action" and follow through with some of the "tugs" my head and heart often experience when people come to mind.  I am reminded from God's Word that others will know I have a personal relationship with Christ by my love (the verb) not my thoughts. I pray that you will put your thoughts into action for those you love, serve and lead!
Living for Jesus & Loving it!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Eight Ways To Help With A Smooth Transition

I have been on staff at six churches. That six moves, six homes, six moving trucks, six new addresses, six new telephone numbers, six...you get the idea. I think the most uneasy transitions are those WITHIN the church. We claim to be "change-agents" and are even lead by the Great Commission to "go into the entire world" and allow others to see Jesus in us so that they might...you know, CHANGE. Going through and helping lead changes and transitions in churches I would say I am fair to good at it (those who don't like the changes I have made would probably disagree with that). One of my favorite hobbies is ready and studding how to be more effective in ministry, specifically student ministry. I have found eight ways to help have a smoother transition for making changes in the ministry you lead. Remember, these are not original and they are not guaranteed. They are simply ways that have helped me in the past and will continue to change and develop over time.

1. Promote the vision, Promote the vision, Promote the Vision.
When people know and catch the vision, it’s like a bad cause of the flu; it is hard to get rid of and yes, at times will make you sick. If you are excited about the vision, others will soon follow in your excitement.
2. Get excited.
Romans 12:11 reminds us to serve the Lord enthusiastically! If I cannot find joy in what God has put in front of me then I am in the wrong area and need to reevaluate either my ministry or my agendas.
3. Lead the Leaders.
Every ministry has volunteer leaders that people respect and are willing to follow and trust because of their longevity or influence. These are critical people to have on board with the vision. Influential leaders can make or break transitions.
4. Pray for the pain.
Every transition causes some pain, there are no exceptions. Comfort and the familiar are the biggest obstacle to overcome in order to create change. Be there and pray for those people who will struggle through the pain and hurt. Care for them and encourage them to ask for God to guide and direct them so they might work with the transition or find a new area to minister in (sometimes causing another transition).
5. Honor the past.
No matter how you feel personally about the past, it has allowed you to be at the present moment that is allowing a transition. Look for the good, don’t focus on the negative. Speak well of those who came before you, remember, this isn’t a popularity contest.
6. Seek wisdom.
Look to those who have gone through transitions and ask them to help you be proactive and not reactive in potential pitfalls. Do your homework and pray without ceasing! Surround yourself with those people who will encourage, pray for and support you during the difficult times.
7. Share the stories.
Share the stories of life change that are a result of other transitions within your ministry and church. Ask people to listen for similar stories so they begin to notice the many ways God is working.
8. See it through.
There will be opposition and failures. Don’t stop, keep moving forward and see the transition through. Those leaders who have made changes and gone through difficult transitions have not allowed setbacks or opposition to discourage them to the point of quitting.

Praying all your transitions are smooth!
T

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

Growing up I played baseball for many years.  I played for some great teams, some good teams, and some teams that were at least "giving good effort" according to our coach.  Over the years I learned a great deal about the game and found out that each coach had a different style and manner in how they taught.  The guys I played with also approached the game (and practice) differently.  Some were very intense and wanted to win at all cost while others were simply content to wear the team jersey.  I learned quickly that coaches treated players very differently and the good coaches adjusted their teaching to the players.  However, there seemed to be one resounding phrase that every coach, player and even the fans used during a game..."keep your eye on the ball."  Keeping your eye on the ball met that a player had a greater chance of making contact while at bat or make a play on the ball in the field when it was hit in their general direction.  Over time "keep your eye on the ball" translated into one word for me, focus.  Focus allows a player to cut out all the chaos and distractions around them to see the ball and game as it is.  I believe as Christians we are constantly reminded to focus, to cut out the chaos and distractions and live life as God intended it.  We are reminded in Hebrews 12 to run with perseverance and to fix our eyes on Jesus.  I want to focus!  Focus on my first love, Jesus.  Focus on my wife and children.  Focus on my ministry.  God has not called me to music ministry, children's ministry, senior/ lead ministry, or any other ministry that seems to "need" me or beg of me.  God has called me to the greatest ministry within the church, youth ministry.  My prayer is that I keep my eye on the ball!
Living for Jesus & Loving it!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Another Satisfied Costumer

Another Sunday, another satisfied costumer??  For more than 16 years I have been in full time student ministry and wondered what a real "successful" Sunday would really look like.  I have had some of the most incredible spiritual highs; praying with students who wanted to make that first time personal commitment to Jesus, seeing students and adults raising hands through praise and worship in music and message (yes, message), seeing mission teams come home and stories reflect heart and life style change, feeling like I shared from the heart and God blessed that beyond anything I could have planned (go figure), and many, MANY more.  Most of us have wonderful, amazing, unbelievable stories we could share that would lead many, including ourselves, to believe that Church was good and successful.  Really though, what makes church good?  I'm not a deep thinker and I wouldn't consider myself a scholar, I just can't help but think of how we direct generations of students.  I think I have been guilty of treating students and families like costumers, wanting them to leave satisfied and to be happy with the "product" that I was trying to market.  Over time and through much time alone with God I have come to the conclusion that I am not to "market" Jesus.  That I can not look for the next way to "sell" HIM to another vulnerable student who is hurting and needing a friend, not a sales pitch or one liner that "cures all" with a money back guarantee.  I am trying to let God lead me but I continue to find myself out front trying to lead the charge.  I no longer want to sell but to be sold out!  I no longer want to guarantee a cure, I want to live a changed life letting others see that I have found THE CURE.  I don't want another satisfied costumer, I want to BE the satisfied costumer.
Living for Jesus & Loving it!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Gifts

Today I spent much of the day in a house with more than forty people that was designed for...well, less than that.  I am a people watcher when ever I am in a public place so often I find myself watching those I am around in personal settings as well.  I watched as those who came in looked to be welcomed and those hosting were trying their hardest to accommodate everyone while not breaking off conversations in a "rude" manner.  After gather in some of the rooms of the home, many immediately began to engage in conversations while some stood along the parimiter waiting for someone to notice them and strike up a conversation.  I always find it interesting that some people are naturals at conversations while most struggle to have a creative question or even the ability to formulate an "on-the-spot" answer when presented with a question.  The more I watched the more I began to think about my ministry and simply, ministry in general.  We want to Walk Across The Room or Get Out of the Boat (both great books) as well as encourage those around us to be "good host" and welcome those who attend our ministry programs and services in hopes that they will return and eventually see and discover that personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  HOWEVER, today I learned a valuable lesson that I have preached and believed for many years, serve in the areas you are gifted in.  I know, I almost feel stupid for admitting this but for the first time, I SAW IT.  I saw people using their gifts, not to promote the Kingdom, but to make people feel welcome and not alone.  I can't force students to feel comfortable welcoming other students anymore than I can force them to have a good voice.  I pray that I look for those who have and want to use their gifts for Kingdom building purposes and encourage them to more in the right direction, and if they don't want to...I will probably forget this post and force them.  Let's hope not!  
Living for Jesus & Loving it!
Todd